In August, the consulting firm behind an influential study on the impact of raising the minimum wage in Montgomery County, Maryland, recognized a “computation error” that skewed their findings. The report, commissioned by County Executive Isiah Leggett, forecast that 47,000 jobs would be lost by 2022 if the county raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour — but researchers now believe that figure to be inflated.
The study has been widely discredited since August, according to the Washington Post, and Leggett appears to be paying attention. On Monday, the executive signed legislation that requires a $15 hourly minimum starting in 2021 for businesses with at least 51 employees, the Post reports. Smaller businesses will be given deadlines of 2023 and 2024.
Leggett vetoed legislation that would have raised the county minimum at a swifter pace in January, shortly before commissioning the study. His concern, he said was that it would overburden businesses and trigger employee layoffs.
County Council Member Marc Elrich, who is running to replace Leggett as county executive in 2018, was the lead sponsor of the new legislation. The version that Leggett signed, however, was a compromise between Elrich’s bill and recommendations made by Leggett for a more relaxed timeline. As Next City reported in August, Elrich came out strong against the research that Leggett commissioned, calling it “a piece of garbage.”
In fact, good research on the impacts of raising the minimum wage is difficult to come by, and the studies that exist have generally been critiqued for their methodology, either because the data is too broad or not comprehensive enough.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.